This sheathing for a column capital was discovered together with other pieces, including a column base (accession no. BZ.1963.36.18), a plain column shaft (BZ.1963.36.13), and another section of a column shaft (BZ.1965.1.9), bearing the inscription, “This was renewed in the time of Theodore, most holy bishop.” The inscription suggests that these pieces were part of a refurbishment project for some ecclesiastic furniture, although just what they may have adorned is not certain. They may have covered the supports of an altar table, a large stand for a lamp or candle, supports for a canopy over the altar, or even part of a templon, a low wall, sometimes colonnaded, that divided the nave from the sanctuary in early Byzantine churches. The templon of the church of Hagia Sophia, for example, was covered in silver. These pieces were apparently gifts to the church of Holy Sion in southern Anatolia in the sixth century.
The Corinthian column capital, decorated with stylized acanthus leaves, went through radical changes in design in the early Byzantine period. In this case, the design conforms quite closely to the ancient canonical design. When viewed from any of its four sides, the vegetation rises in a rational progression from the single column shaft, first with two leaves visible, then three, and finally four slender tendrils, two curling out towards the corners, and two towards the center.
- J. Hanson
S. A. Boyd, "A 'Metropolitan' Treasure from a Church in the Provinces: An introduction to the Study of the Sion Treasure," in Ecclesiastical Silver Plate in Sixth-Century Byzantium: Papers of the Symposium held May 16-18, 1986, at the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, and Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C., ed. S.A. Boyd and M.M. Mango (Washington, D.C., 1992), 5-37, esp. 12, pl. S54.1, checklist no. 54.
P. Meyers, "Elemental Compositions of the Sion Treasure and Other Byzantine Silver Objects," in Ecclesiastical Silver Plate in Sixth-Century Byzantium: Papers of the Symposium held May 16-18, 1986, at the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, and Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C., ed. S. Boyd and M.M. Mango (Washington, D.C., 1992), 169-75, esp. 180, table 1 no. 42.
J. Durand, L'art byzantin (Paris, 1999), 53, fig. p. 46.
F. A. Bauer, Gabe und Person: Geschenke als Träger personaler Aura in der Spätantike, Eichstätter Universitätsreden (Eichstätt, 2009), fig. 58.
J. Bogdanovic, The Framing of Sacred Space: The Canopy and the Byzantine Church, Oxford University Press (2017),
Purchased from George Zacos (dealer) by Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss, Switzerland, 1963.
Given by Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss to Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C., 1963.
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Byzantine Collection, Washington, D.C.